Top 5 UK Operators Pledge £100m to GambleAware

The Betting and Gaming Council’s five largest members have agreed to pledge £100 million over the next four years to improve treatment services for problem gamblers. The operators taking part are bet365, GVC, PaddyPower Betfair, Sky Betting and Gaming and William Hill. GambleAware, which will receive the funds, will be able to boost research, education and treatment services to combat gambling harms.

A casino roulette wheel.

The latest figures show that gambling participation has been down during the lockdown, although some are still at risk of gambling harms. ©Naim Benjelloun/Pexels

Reducing Gambling Harms

Known as the big five, these giant operators have established a stronghold on the UK’s gambling industry. Together, the £100 million fund will go to GambleAware, a charity specializing in services to treat and prevent problem gambling. As a grant-funding charity, GambleAware will act as the main commissioning agent to make sure that the donation helps those in need of treatment.

These five operators have already agreed to boost their spending on research, education and treatment services. This will go up from 0.1% to 0.25% of their annual revenue this year. Spending will rise in 2021 to 0.5%, 0.75% in 2022 and then 1% in 2023.

Peter Jackson is the CEO of Flutter Entertainment, which owns both PaddyPower Betfair and Sky Betting and Gaming. He explained that GambleAware would be a worthy recipient of the funds, thanks to its excellent history of working closely with operators to commission effective services for problem gamblers.

It is hoped that the £100 million will improve the treatment and counseling that is already out there, as well as further developing better systems for the future. Other ways in which the industry is working to combat gambling harms include the moratorium on TV and radio gambling ads during the coronavirus lockdown as well as increased safer gambling messaging.

The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents the UK’s betting shops, casinos and online operators, has also confirmed that £2.5 million will go to YGAM and GamCare’s gambling education project. The £10 million education initiative to be rolled out across the UK, will teach children between from the ages of 11 to 19 about the risks associated with gambling.

Other operators will still deliver 0.1% of their annual revenue to the GambleAware’s funding for research, education and treatment services. BGC members will also give £3.8 million in funding to the BetRegret advertising campaign, which aims to encourage safer gambling behaviors.

Matt Hancock, the government’s health secretary has welcomed the BGC’s announcement. He expressed his personal wish to combat problem gambling as well as the mental, physical and financial harm it causes. He also noted that the government would also contribute by rolling out specialist NHS services, offering expert care and treatment for those struggling with problem gambling.

“We have been clear that the gambling industry has a responsibility to protect people from gambling-related harm and support those who have been affected. I welcome the Betting and Gaming Council now outlining how it will deliver on leading operators’ pledges to bolster research, education and treatment. We will monitor closely the progress of these new measures and continue to encourage the wider industry to step up.”Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, speaking to the BGC

More Data on COVID-19 Gambling

Campaigners for gambling reform have pushed hard in recent months for the industry to improve its approach to problem gambling. During the coronavirus lockdown, there have been significant concerns that those already vulnerable to gambling harms face increased risk during this period of stress and uncertainty.

The Gambling Commission, which regulates the UK’s industry, has just published figures revealing how much gambling took place during the lockdown. During April, the date seems to show that the lockdown did not trigger a rise in new customers at gambling websites. According to the survey, just 0.2% of those asked said that they had taken up gambling for the first time during this period.

In terms of overall activity, operator data showed that player activity decreased between March and April by 5%. This is mostly as a result of the lack of live sports to bet on during this time. While this may seem like a significant drop in participation, the Gambling Commission said that it had expected a more drastic decline.

75% of gamblers said that they had not spent more time or money on gambling. A trend for new products has emerged though, as more consumers reported trying out new products. In April, engagement with new products rose to 42%. The National Lottery proved popular, as one in five surveyed said that they had taken part in weekly draws over the four-week period.

The findings are not dissimilar from figures published last month. During the coronavirus lockdown, despite concerns, participation in gambling has been down. However, a number of engaged players has spent more time and money on gambling during lockdown. The data was collected from a selection of the UK’s biggest operators, together with YouGov’s ‘COVID-19 tracker’, which analyses trends and habits during the lockdown.

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